Skip to Main Content

Installation view of Army P-39 Airacobra Show

Installation view of Army P-39 Airacobra Show. Image courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Digital Assets Collection and Archives, Buffalo, New York.

Army P-39 Airacobra Show

Wednesday, November 18, 1942
Tuesday, December 8, 1942

Army P-39 Airacobra Show dramatized one of Buffalo's major contributions to the war effort during World War II. Organized in cooperation with the Bell Aircraft Corporation, the exhibition included photo enlargements showing the development of an Airacobra fighter plane from drafting board to flight and an all-color sound movie of the Airacobra, Cannon on Wings. Beginning with the full-scale outline, the photos pictured significant steps in the making of the plane, from the preparation of the parts to the assembly line. A series of flight shots, views of the plane being tested and shipped, and finally images of the plane in action completed the exhibition.

Accompanying the photographs and film was a display of miniature models of famous warplanes planes hand-carved by students in the Buffalo Public Schools. The project was initiated by the U.S. Office of Education, Washington, DC, and the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, and the Buffalo Chapter of the Junior Red Cross sponsored the inclusion of the models in Army P-39 Airacobra Show. The Bell Aircraft Corporation also sponsored the printing of two thousand two hundred color reproductions of the Airacobra to be given out to children.

The exhibition traveled to Pine Camp (now Fort Drum), the Addison Gallery of American Art at Philips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Gallery in Springfield, Massachusetts; the Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire; Gibbes Memorial Art Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina; Brooks Memorial Art Gallery in Memphis, Tennessee; Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences in Savannah, Georgia; and the Municipal Art Museum in Wichita, Kansas.

During the exhibition, special days were set aside for employees of sub-contractors to the Bell Aircraft Corporation as well for students in the industrial arts classes throughout the city to visit Army P-39 Airacobra Show. December 1, 1942 , was celebrated as "Bell Day," when employees were greeted by officials of the firm, local celebrities in the field of aeronautics, and Lieutenant Colonel John D. Howe, who represented the Labor Service Division, Bureau of Public Relations, Washington, DC.

Back to Top